(Google Earth image, 2012)
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium adjoins Kaimana Beach. Its 100-metre by 40-metre tidal saltwater pool has been closed since 1979 on safety grounds.
World War I
By 1918, Hawaiian citizens had begun to look at ways to memorialise the war service of the Hawaiians, who served in the United States armed forces.
A memorial park was created and the American Legion given control over development of the park.
A Territorial War Memorial Commission was appointed to bold a competition to find an appropriate design for the war memorial.
The competition judges awarded first prize to Lewis Hobart.
Lewis Hobart’s design was pared back to match the US$250, 000 budgeted for the project.
1927 to 1940s
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium had an imposing entrance arch and a 100-metre saltwater pool, that opened in time for the Amateur Athletic Union’s National Men’s Championship swimming competition.
Duke Kahanamoku, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Crabbe and many other notable swimmers competed and performed at the pool.
World War II
The pool was used in army training.
After decades of neglect, the Natatorium’s 100-metre saltwater pool was closed on safety grounds.
The nonprofit group Friends of the Natatorium began to advocate for restoration of the Natatorium.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Natatorium as one of its nation’s 11 Most Endangered Places.
The State of Hawaii concluded that complete restoration including a re-engineered pool was the most sensible option for the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium.
Renovations were carried out at the Natatorium.
A controversial project to renovate the Natatorium and fix cracks in the pool began.
Restoration of the Natatorium’s façade, locker rooms, lifeguard offices, volleyball court and parking lot was completed.
The Hawaii Department of Health’s new rules for public swimming pools required public seawater pools to have flushing systems that incorporated mechanical pumps.
The Natatorium was listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, but large areas of the pool deck had collapsed and the state of the exterior seawalls was a further cause for concern
Honolulu’s Mayor Hannemann cancelled the Natatorium restoration project costed at US$6 million.
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium had obvious structural decay.
A Memorial Day service sponsored by Friends of the Natatorium was held at the Natatorium.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Governor Neil Abercrombie announced a plan that involved spending US$18.4 million to create a new public beach on the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium site, move the arch and demolish the pool.
The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of National Treasures.
Memorial Day services continued to be held at the War Memorial Natatorium.
Environmental impact studies for the planned Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium redevelopment were underway.
In November, the National Trust for Historic Preservation unveiled a concept plan to allow more seawater into the pool to help keep its water clean and clear and so counter arguments that this ghost pool’s ageing pipes, poor water flow and the poor
quality of its water and decking justify its demolition. Both the Friends of the Natatorium and the Historic Hawai’i Foundation supported this concept plan.